Financial Guidance Center (FGC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization serving consumers throughout the State of Nevada. Established in 1972, FGC is a United Way member agency, approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide all housing related services and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). The Mission of the FGC is to promote economic security through financially responsible behavior to all consumers, regardless of the ability to pay. Our Vision is to create a community culture of financial responsibility. Our Mission and Vision have remained steadfast through our years of existence and are at the core of all we do.
Money comes with no instruction.
We can go through high school, college, and graduate school and never take a class on personal finances unless it is chosen as an elective. Our families often have learned their financial lessons through the school of hard knocks. Most are reluctant to discuss their financial situation, even with those closest to them, so we end up perpetuating poor money habits.
CFED (www.cfed.org) provides an annual Assets and Opportunities Scorecard by state. Alas, Nevada is always bringing up the rear, most often receiving an overall grade of “F”. Individual statistics from the five core sections of Financial Assets and Income, Businesses and Jobs, Housing and Homeownership, Health Care, and Education include the following rankings for Nevada:
45th in the bankruptcy rate, per 1,000 people
36th in the liquid asset poverty rate
$8,328 household net worth average versus the US average net worth of $70,359
49th in the homeownership rate
51st in high-cost mortgage loans
50th in the unemployment rate
46th in the uninsured rate
49th in high school graduation rate
It is obvious how each poor ranking affects the ranking in other categories. The poor graduation rate affects the high unemployment rate, which has a direct effect on the uninsured rate.
What should be done to shift the tide and what, realistically, can be done?
Certainly, evaluating public policy can have a beneficial outcome. Gaining and accumulating assets will lead to financial stability for a household, yet we punish the very families who can benefit the most by placing arbitrary asset limitations on those who receive certain public benefits. More than 50 percent of Nevada households are liquid asset poor (cannot sustain their financial obligations for 90 days should their income cease for any reason) yet they cannot have more than $2,000 in savings for this program or more than $6,000 in savings for that program.
More so, we, as consumers, must become responsible for our own financial stability. We must educate ourselves and our family, understand our credit reports, ensure we pay our bills on time, pay ourselves first through savings, take advantage of employer investment opportunities such as investing in a 401(k), start our child’s college savings fund, become banked, and pursue higher education or vocational training.
Will this be an easy road to follow? Probably not. We all know good things do not come easily. Are there resources available to help begin the journey? There certainly are and our agency is one of those resources.
Financial Guidance Center (FGC) offers a plethora of services, programs, and resources. Searching for a class on budgeting and credit? Call FGC. Can’t open a checking account because of misuse of a previous account? Call FGC. Want to purchase a home and need to learn the process and locate financial assistance to help cover the cost of the down payment and closing costs? Call FGC. Want to understand your credit report and credit score? Call FGC. Listed below is information on just a few of the free resources and programs that will help you begin the journey to financial stability and self-sufficiency.
Financial Counseling – no cost comprehensive financial counseling and coaching, dedicated to the consumer’s specific needs and anticipated outcomes.
Debt Management – assistance with establishing a viable repayment program, negotiating reduced interest rates to accelerate liquidation of debt.
Housing Counseling – working with the lender/servicer to negotiate a viable modification through formal partnerships with most major lenders/servicers.
Individual Development Account (IDA) – matched savings program.
Education IDA – participant can save a maximum of $500 over a minimum of six months and receive an 8:1 match grant. ($4,000 match grant for a $500 contribution). There are qualifications to be met as well as financial literacy and asset specific education requirements.
Micro-enterprise IDA – participant can save a maximum of $2,000 over a minimum of 10 months and receive a 2:1 match grant ($4,000 match grant for a $2,000 contribution). There are qualifications to be met as well as financial literacy and asset specific education requirements.
Down-payment IDA – participant can save a maximum of $5,000 over a minimum of 10 months and receive a 3:1 match grant ($15,000 match grant for a $5,000 contribution). There are qualifications to be met as well as financial literacy and asset specific education requirements.
Financial Guidance Center was established for the benefit of our consumers. Take advantage of our professional, unbiased, comprehensive service by reaching out to us today. Financial Guidance Center can be reached at 775-337-6363, 800-451-4505, or visit us at www.FinancialGuidanceCenter.org. We look forward to serving you.
Michelle Johnson is the president and CEO of Financial Guidance Center.